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March 14, 2007 Special Dispatch No. 1501

Iranian Daily: ‘Mild Cold War Heats Up’

March 14, 2007
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 1501

In a March 8, 2007 analysis titled "Mild Cold War Heats Up," the Iranian English-language daily Tehran Times, which is affiliated with Iran's Foreign Ministry, wrote that Russia was trying to reassert itself as a rival to the U.S., and that the Cold War was on again, albeit in a more moderate incarnation. According to the article, the tangible manifestation of this thesis is that Russia is insisting that it, not Iran, is the one threatened by the placement of the Pentagon's missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. The paper pointed out Russia's displeasure at the Czech Republic's and Poland's willingness to accept a U.S. antimissile defense system placed in their territory as an example of the U.S.-Russian struggle over spheres of influence in Europe. As additional evidence of its claim, the paper quoted senior Russian officials and generals as saying that if the weapons systems were to be placed in the CzechRepublic and Poland, Russia was more than capable of "adequately responding."

The following are the main points of the article: [1]

"The worst arms control dispute of the post-Cold War era is taking shape, as Poland and the Czech Republic have displayed their willingness to host facilities for the Pentagon's missile defense shield.

"Moscow has angrily opposed deployment of the missile shield in nearby countries in Central Europe. Russia insists [that] it is the real target of the Pentagon program, not Iran as claimed by the project's supporters.

"The plan is to [situate] large silos in Poland holding 10 interceptor rockets which are to be fired into space to meet and destroy inter-continental ballistic missiles fired at the U.S. The radar detection system would be [situated] in the Czech Republic…

"Berlin is very concerned about the project because Germany suffered more than any other country in Europe during the Cold War. Germany also partially owes its unification to the Soviet Union, which decided to end the Cold War after nearly half a century. Germany, which has Europe’s largest economy and is seeking a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, does not want the shadow of the U.S. looming over Europe perpetually.

"Moscow, which is threatening to reopen a landmark Cold War treaty that eliminated medium-range missiles in Europe, has said it could retaliate by training its strategic missiles on Poland and the Czech Republic.

"'If the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic take such a step, the strategic missile forces will be capable of targeting these facilities,' General Nikolai Solovtsov, Russia's strategic missiles commander, said in a press conference. Russia's Air Force commander, General Vladimir Mikhailov, had also said Moscow had its own missile shield and need not worry. 'We have everything needed to adequately respond to all these deployments.'

"Former Slovak Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky has also warned about the deployment. 'The deployment of (missile) bases in the Czech Republic and Poland means that NATO military installations will move closer to the borders with Russia, in violation of a verbal promise made by the United States to (ex-Soviet president) Gorbachev at talks ending the Cold War,' RIA Novosti quoted Carnogursky as saying.

"Despite all the overtures since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia still apprehensively view each other as potential enemies.

"Washington sees Moscow as a long-dormant lion which is suddenly awaking and posing a serious challenge to U.S. hegemony.

"After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians felt a loss of pride and status, but now Moscow is trying to reassert itself as a rival to the United States. For the first time, Russian arms exports exceeded those of the U.S. in 2006. Russia is also feeling proud as the revenues it is gaining from high oil prices have turned a hungry and indebted Russia into a wealthy country which sits on large energy resources and controls its imports to Europe.

"Russia and the U.S. have been in a mild cold war ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the plan to deploy missiles on European soil is heating up this mild cold war."


[1] Tehran Times (Iran), March 8, 2007.

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